Ainley، نويسنده , , David G. and David Hyrenbach، نويسنده , , K.، نويسنده ,
To characterize the environmental factors affecting seabird population trends in the central portion of the California current system (CCS), we analyzed standardized vessel-based surveys collected during the late spring (May–June) upwelling season over 22 yr (1985–2006). We tested the working hypothesis that population trends are related to species-specific foraging ecology, and predicted that temporal variation in population size should be most extreme in diving species with higher energy expenditure during foraging. We related variation in individual species abundance (number km−2) to seasonally lagged (late winter, early spring, late spring) and concurrent ocean conditions, and to long-term trends (using a proxy variable: year) during a multi-decadal period of major fluctuations in the El Niño-Southern oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO). We considered both remote (Multivariate ENSO Index, PDO) and local (coastal upwelling indices and sea-surface temperature) environmental variables as proxies for ocean productivity and prey availability. We also related seabird trends to those of potentially major trophic competitors, humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) and blue (Balaenoptera musculus) whales, which increased in number 4–5-fold midway during our study. Cyclical oscillations in seabird abundance were apparent in the black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes), and decreasing trends were documented for ashy storm-petrel (Oceanodroma homochroa), pigeon guillemot (Cepphus columbus), rhinoceros auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata), Cassin’s auklet (Ptychoramphus aleuticus), and western gull (Larus occidentalis); the sooty shearwater (Puffinus griseus), exhibited a marked decline before signs of recovery at the end of the study period. The abundance of nine other focal species varied with ocean conditions, but without decadal or long-term trends. Six of these species have the largest global populations in the CCS, and four are highly energetic, diving foragers. Furthermore, three of the diving species trends were negatively correlated with the abundance of humpback whales in the study area, a direct competitor for the same prey. Therefore, on the basis of literature reviewed, we hypothesize that the seabirds were affected by the decreasing carrying capacity of the CCS, over-exploitation of some prey stocks and interference competition from the previously exploited, but now increasing, baleen whale populations. Overall, our study highlights the complexity of the ecological factors driving seabird population trends in the highly variable and rapidly changing CCS ecosystem.